Spain, Germany and China all have maximum working temperatures. It’s time the UK followed suit
We love the summer sun, but it can be deadly. The UK’s former chief scientist, David King, has warned this intense heatwave could cause up to 10,000 excess deaths. Despite decades of warnings from scientists that climate breakdown would bring severe heatwaves to the UK, we are still unprepared. Our buildings, public spaces, rules and laws were made for a different climate in a different century. Extreme heat and stormier winters are becoming the norm in Britain, and we’re struggling to cope.
As record temperatures pass 40C (104F) in the UK, working people deserve to be safe. Builders, postal workers and street cleaners who spend long periods outside in high temperatures are at serious risk of sunstroke, heat stress and skin cancer. Other workers doing physical labour in indoor heat, like packing in a hot warehouse, can also suffer heat stress, respiratory problems and even heart failure. Working under pressure in these temperatures can reduce people’s capacity to concentrate and lead to deadly accidents. This can be especially dangerous in industries such as transport and construction, and in manufacturing plants.